Book Review: Guardians of the Whills (Greg Rucka)

Book Review: Guardians of the Whills (Greg Rucka)

Guardians of the Whills by Greg Rucka

Disney Canon

Before jumping into the review of this, let’s delve a bit into the Disney Star Wars canon versus the old (now labeled Legends) Expanded Universe canon. This came out around the time of Rogue One (or soon after) and was made to work with the other similar Young Adult (and Adult and even Children’s) literature to work as a larger ‘tie-in’ with the movie. Disney’s Canon (outside of the original trilogy and the prequel trilogy) is pretty vastly different than the old school Legends canon.

This is primarily due to the sequel trilogy and its involvement and change of everything fundamentally post – Endor. They have brought back some aspects of the old canon and integrated it into the new canon, but obviously tweaked, and altered from its origin. The sects and followers of the Force and Jedi is one such example. In the new canon this is represented over some different various sects, religious or not, and followers.

Fast forward to Rogue One and the kyber crystals being more used in the canon, and here we have the introduction of Baze and Chirut who are former Guardians of the Whills who looked after a kyber temple in Jedha. This is one of the few aspects of the new canon that I actually appreciate over the old, or at least as in addition to the old canon. I think there is a lot of story elements and ideas that they can go with and use this for.

Guardians of the Whills

The Force is with me,
And I am one with the Force;
And I fear nothing,
Because all is as the Force wills it.

―The Guardian’s Mantra

Guardians of the Whills – Wookiepedia

The above mantra is the one that Chirut repeats to himself several times throughout the movie – Rogue One, as well as he does in various other books / comics / etc that he appears in (like in the novel Guardians of the Whills).

The Guardians of the Whills, also known as the Guardians of the Kyber Temple, were a religious order that existed at least a few years before the Invasion of Naboo. The Guardians later acted as a resistance group[1] of monks active in the Jedha City on Jedha during the Imperial Era. They traditionally handcrafted the lightbow, a complicated form of bowcaster native to Jedha, such as the one used by Chirrut Îmwe during the Battle of Scarif.[3] The Guardians protected both the Temple of the Kyber and pilgrims who visited it.

Guardians of the Whills – Wookiepedia

For more information be sure to check out the Wookiepedia page above. Just be careful, the Wookiepedia is a massive rabbit hole (or insert Star Wars themed animal here, gundark hole? sarlaac hole? etc.) that can literally take you hours to crawl back out of. I’ve found myself doing that. Clicking one article to go to another to go to another, after another, after another. Good luck, and May the Force Be With You to see your way back out.

Book Review

Now that we got all of that out of the way, let’s dive into the book and give it an actual review.

GoodReads blurb:

Baze and Chirrut used to be Guardians of the Whills, who looked after the Kyber Temple on Jedha and all those who worshipped there. Then the Empire came and took over the planet. The temple was destroyed and the people scattered. Now Baze and Chirrut do what they can to resist the Empire and protect the people of Jedha, but it never seems to be enough. When a man named Saw Gerrera arrives with grand plans to take down the Empire, it seems like the perfect way for Baze and Chirrut to make a real difference and help the people of Jedha. But will it come at too great a cost?

Guardians of the Whills (Disney Canon – Star Wars Junior Novel) (GoodReads)

This is a ‘young adult’ novel, or a ‘junior’ novel, its relatively short, it has pictures, and pages that are just quotes at each chapters. Its a smaller square hardcover novel. The little poems or philosophies or quotes we get at each chapter add to the universe and the scant knowledge we have of the various Force followers / sects / etc. Its 234 pages and with the larger font, the smaller hardcover size, and the chapter breaks, etc, its a quick read.

One of the complaints about the movie Rogue One was that the characters come off as flat or more plot device based, or woodish and cardboard; this novel goes a long way to providing some insight, some background, and some added backstory to Baze and Chirrut. Arguably two of the more interesting characters to come out of the movie. (I mean, who doesn’t like a Force monk and his gruff buddy who’s given up his religion?)

In many ways this is a study of an odd – couple that have a lifelong friendship despite (or because of) their differences. Chirrut, ever the space Monk, the tidy one, the philosophical, religious, theologian, the clean, the perfunctory, and blind man of faith is juxtaposed by Baze who is gruff, uncouth, rough, harsh exterior yet with a heart of gold, a man of the streets rather than a man of learning or belief. One who has kept his faith despite all that has happened to him, and a man who has lost his faith due to all that has befallen him and his friend.

Baze and Chirrut act as a form of Robin Hood style do gooders, vigilantes on more of a mission of righting wrongs rather than killing for purpose, but as the Empire starts leaning heavier and heavier on the city, squeezing it for all of their kyber crystals; they find themselves working with Saw Guerrera and forming an alliance they rather not really be making with him.

This is a good strong character heavy and introspective novel on two different and interesting characters; especially for a junior / young adult novel. There is some actual sequences (the various little skirmishes in the streets, some other attacks, etc.), but for the most part, this is a drama that plays out in the heads and actions of our two Rogue One characters (Baze and Chirrut). And its done quite well.

Greg Rucka does a good job of getting into these characters, what makes them tick, their differences, their commonalities, their motivations, and leaves them in a good place for the start of Rogue One. This works as a wonderful set up to the movie for these characters.

My GoodReads Rating: ****
Global Average GoodReads Rating: 3.83 (as of 11.2.21)
My LibraryThing Rating: ****

The Beer Thrillers and Star Wars

For more Star Wars content here on The Beer Thrillers, check out the following:

So far, so good, with the November day to day posts. Two days done so far, and two completed. Yesterday we kicked it off with a Beer Review of Life Sentence by Tattered Flag. Who knows whats in store for tomorrow – the 3rd – and beyond. Be sure to check back and check in often as we kick off this month of daily posts!

(Today’s was a bit of an interesting one, I had about 90% of the article written before I had to leave for work at 9:15AM, worked 10-7PM, stopped at the local high school to vote, and then came home and finished the article. I’m sure there will be plenty more articles and days like this ahead in this November.)


-B. Kline

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